For those thinking about making their cycling debut at this year's Brisbane to Gold Coast Cycle Challenge (B2GC), let me share with you an experience that taught me a few important things before tackling the big ride.
It was 2005, I was 25, and my father had just upgraded his bike, so I inherited his old bike, affectionately known as the Yellow Scorpio (inset). A heavy, yellow, old-school bike made sometime prior to 1990, I'm sure. I was new to the cycling scene but with sport a regular fixture in my life I was full of confidence that cycling would be easy to take by the reins and roll with, so to speak. And of course, I rode a bike as a kid, so same same right??
I rode a total of 3 rides before the big day, yes the big day that consisted of 100km from Brisbane to the Gold Coast. My longest ride of those 3 rides was a Riverloop (~35km). On top of this, I took one water bottle (whaaaat!?) which contained 600ml of Gatorade. And no food. At the halfway stop, I wasn't sure what to do first... go to the toilet, refill my drink bottle, eat a banana? ... and the next thing I know the group I had found myself riding with for the first part of the event was heading off towards the Gold Coast. Without wanting to miss the opportunity to continue drafting off this bunch, I got back on my bike before doing any of the above mentioned (and quite important) things and raced out with them. So, would you be surprised if I told you that with 20km to go (80km into the ride) I was cramping big time with EVERY single pedal stroke?? I thought I was going to have to get off my bike and wait for someone to rescue me, it was so bad, and I was almost in tears. I'm not sure how, but I managed to get to the end and swore to never ride again (which I've said a few times since). After collecting my thoughts, and my blood sugars, I was told by some friends that we would be rolling around to The Spit for breakfast. Mustering all the energy I could, I straddled the Yellow Scorpio for what I hoped was the final time that day... I lifted my right foot and clipped in, then my left, CLIP. The only problem was I had forgotten to pedal. Before I knew it, I was back on the ground, except laying sideways this time, with a few thousand B2GC finishes gazing towards the loud crash of metal on pavement, and me laying with my bike still firmly attached to my feet. Friends rushed to my aid, but in their fits of laughter it was a while before they could lift me up and out of my predicament.
My 3 (very simple) tips for your first Brisbane to the Gold Coast Cycle Challenge:
Tip #1 - get some decent k's in the legs before tackling this event. You don't need to go and ride a full 100km beforehand, but several 70-80km rides would be a good idea, and regular time in the saddle consistently for several weeks will make for a way more enjoyable event day.
Tip #2 - trial some nutrition during your training rides to see how they sit in your stomach and how you perform; do your legs cramp under load, are you taking a long time to recover post ride? I highly recommend seeing a dietitian to nut out any of these issues, each person is unique in their requirements, absorption, intolerances etc.
Tip #3 - to clip in or not clip in? It really is a personal choice and one that probably needs to align with your reason for cycling. If you ride to take in the scenery at a leisurely pace, I would stick to flat pedals if that feels comfortable for you. If you are keen to push some power through those legs, get up hills more quickly, and to feel part of the bike - go for clipping in. Just remember to clip out :)
I hope this has enlightened you on what NOT to do. All the best for your first event, wherever it may be!